Tag Archives: it staff

Why I became a believer in IT work behavior tendencies

Have you ever had two employees who didn’t get along?

Do you wonder why some people can’t seem to do certain types of work?

Do you wonder why you struggle in communicating with your clients and employees?

Are you aware technology attracts a certain type of personality and 90% in your organization have three of the four traits in that personality type. That’s right – 90%!!

There are very specific reasons in what makes an IT employee “tick”. It doesn’t matter if you are the CIO, a Programmer, or a Desktop Technician, , , if you are part of an IT organization there is a high probability your work behavior tendencies are similar to all of us.

Every IT manager needs to understand the dynamics of IT employee work behavior!

Our personality traits help us as technicians but hinder us as IT managers!

I didn’t know much about all of this until 1990 when I joined a new company as their CIO. This company used tools to measure the work behavior tendencies of its employees.

At first, I didn’t believe in any of this “hocus pocus”, , , it was a bit far-fetched for me.

Then, three things happened that locked me into the value of this forever.

First, I shared my work behavior profile summary with my wife of 20 years at the time, , , someone who knows me better than I know myself. I asked her to read the profile and tell me who she thought it described of the people we know. Her answer, “It is you, Mike.”

My response was to point out phrases in the summary and told her that I wasn’t like that.

Her response was quick, “Yes you are, , , you just don’t admit it.”

I still had a lot of doubts about all of this.

Second, I went to a class to learn about using the tools as a manager a week later. At the class the Instructor had us take the 10-minute survey again and taught us how to grade it. My results were very different from when I took the survey during my interview. In fact, two of the four measurements were almost opposite of what they were before.

Not only that, the Instructor showed an example of what my results looked like and made the comment, “If you have a manager with these indicators, , , he needs serious help.”

This caused me a lot of concern, , , I’m a manager who needs lots of help?

I pulled the Instructor aside during the break and asked him about what was going on with me. “Why has my profile changed so much and help me understand what you mean by giving this person help?”

His answer, “Aren’t you the new guy at Medaphis?”

My response, “Yes, but what does that have to do with this?”

He posed another question, “Do you have everything figured out about what you and your team need to work on?”

My answer, “No, not at all, , , I’ve been there a week so I’m still trying to learn the names of people and what the issues are, , , I’m several weeks away from this.”

You see, I was a little disappointed I had to attend a 3-day class when I knew I needed to be in heavy assessment mode to get to where he was asking me about.

Then he gave me information that clicked. He said, “This is exactly what your profile says. When you interviewed, you were in another company and had been managing several years there, , , you knew what the issues were and what your team needed to do to be successful. It’s what your interview profile pointed out.” He had already seen my interview profile.

He added, “Today’s profile reflects you being in a new company and you don’t yet know who all the players are, let alone the issues and what you need to work on. What it says to me is that you are telling yourself to slow down until you get more information, , , it says you are communicating much more than you normally would probably because you are meeting so many new people and discovering what the issues are. It also says you are depending more on others right now than you normally would, , , all of this is normal in a new management job and in a new company.”

His last comment was big, “Once you know what the issues are and what you and your team needs to focus on, this profile will snap back to what it was when you took the survey in your interview.”

He was right, , , even the managers who worked for me at the time can tell you when my work behavior “snapped back” to my normal management approach. Once I knew what the IT support issues were and understood my organization’s capabilities, , , we started pushing forward as opposed to treading water while I was in assessment mode.

This opened my eyes and I began to think there might be something to it.

Third, and this was a clincher that happened about a year later. I had two managers who reported to me who could not seem to get along. I had worked with both of them in a previous company and knew they were both strong managers. They should have been doing amazing work together but they were fighting one another.

I couldn’t figure out why these two managers could not get along so I called the Instructor of the training program I attended for his help.

I provided the profiles of each manager and explained the situation. Without hesitation he said, “The reason is very obvious, , , it is right here on their profiles”.

Well, it certainly wasn’t to me but he was right on the mark in what he told me. I sat down with the two managers and explained the dynamics of what was going on and it resolved their differences once and for all. They were amazing managers and worked very well together and were supportive of one another after our discussion.

Startling similarities
I’ve studied and measured IT employee work behavior over ten years and discovered startling similarities in almost everyone who works in IT.

In fact it is so predictable that if you put me in a room of 20 IT managers or 20 programmers, I can confidently tell you what the profile make-up will be of the group, , , even before talking with anyone or determining each person’s work behavior profile.

More validation occurred in my IT Manager Institute
I was able to measure the work behavior tendencies of over 200 IT managers from all parts of the world. Every class had exactly the same make-up with 90% the same in three of the four measurement categories, , , exactly the same results I saw as a CIO for the 8 years I used similar tools.

Initially, I thought it was an anomaly, , , I concluded over time that certain personality types are drawn to work with technology. These employees become IT managers, , , and this is where the challenge presents itself.

What helps us succeed as technicians actually hinders our success as managers. 

The point and benefits
Every IT manager needs to understand IT employee work behavior, , , it is the underlying reason why people do things the way they do, , , and IT employees have very similar traits.

Knowing what makes your people and yourself “tick” is important because it helps you  several ways:

  • understand why things happen
  • resolving employee conflicts
  • assigning responsibilities that aligns with an employee’s work behavior tendencies
  • understand why some things are difficult and others are easy for you

I developed a 4-part series of articles for my ITLever Blog that explains this.

Two ways to learn more about IT employee work behavior
1)  Online training session, , , an excerpt from my IT Manager Institute Self Study.  Learn why the two managers were fighting and what I did to resolve the conflict.



2)  4-part article series

Part 1    IT Employee Work Behavior


Part 2    Who we are


Part 3    Challenges in who we are


Part 4    70% in IT have authoritative management style


I hope you watch the 30-minute video and read the articles, , ,  this information will probably be an eye-opener for you just as it was for me.

Understanding work behavior tendencies of your people and yourself gives you an edge in managing better and will help you achieve more success.

Best of success!

Teamwork is difficult for IT employees

Teamwork is essential for your IT organization to succeed. None of us would question it.

But did you ever consider that teamwork is not a basic trait in your IT staff. In fact, working on and within a team is a challenge for most of your IT people.

Here is why.

90% are independent, self starters who are goal oriented. Did you hear me say, “independent“?

Also, more than 90% are high detail people who like to do things their way. They are control oriented people who like to do the work themselves and have things done “their way”.

These two issues are not exactly made for teamwork. In fact, they can work against good teamwork.

Does this mean IT employees can’t be good team players? Certainly not, , , but it is important for IT managers to understand that it’s not a natural thing for 90% of your staff who have these two traits  —  independent and high detail.

What this means is that the IT manager must work hard to ensure teamwork is created in your organization and people know how to become good team players. As an IT manager, you want to reinforce teamwork and client service  all the time.

Help your IT staff understand that “we will all be successful together”. If the IT organization (the team) is not successful, there won’t be any successful individuals. It’s about the team, , , not about the individual. When the team is successful, we can all achieve success.

In a functional team, people have very specific assignments and responsibilities. They know how to do their jobs and when everyone succeeds in their work, the team succeeds. Failure in any area can cause the team to fail so people need the tools and knowledge to do their job and you as manager must be certain all things necessary for success are addressed.

People need to look out for one another, , , and help one another. It’s very difficult for someone who is highly independent and goal oriented to want others to succeed or to be the hero. We want those accolades for ourselves.

Learning how to become cooperative and eager to help others succeed is a key strategy you want to reinforce with your team, , , even reward this behavior when you see someone exhibit it.

You have to teach your IT staff fundamentals, , , like a football coach teaches blocking and tackling. Fundamental skills like teamwork, project management, communication, and client service are essential for your success.

Don’t forget to look at yourself when you think about this, , , 90% of all IT managers are also independent and high detail people.

My favorite employee appreciation event

In the fast and furious life of an IT manager, it is easy to focus on the work and forget about your employees who are doing the work. Ask yourself this question:

“When was the last time you thanked your IT staff?”

I put some things into motion that forces me to remember to thank my employees for the hard work they do. First, I include a recognition component in every monthly staff meeting. I also like to have at least one “just for fun”  event in every staff meeting, , , something that says, “I appreciate you.”.

Second, I will have my secretary remind me twice a month to do something that shows my appreciation for my employees.

My favorite employee appreciation event is to buy ice cream sandwiches or popsicles in the afternoon and pass them out to my employees. It gives me a reason to visit them in their work area, creates a short break for them, , , and exhibits the fact that I appreciate what they do for our company.

You see, that’s really the big deal, , , and it is a big deal. It shows employees that their manager appreciates them.

In the IT world, your employees don’t receive a great deal of appreciation from their customers (other department managers and users). For many, they feel unappreciated by others in the company. You can turn this around by handing out ice cream and doing other things that demonstrate an appreciation of their efforts.

IT employees have a huge need to feel appreciated and to receive recognition for their work, , , they seek out confirmation that they are doing a good job.

In your IT manager role, one of the key responsibilities you have is to build team camaraderie and motivate your employees. Appreciation and recognition events go a long way in doing this. Never underestimate the importance it has when you show your employees you appreciate them.

Doing things like this tells your employees, “Thank you.”; and it means a great deal to them.